Former Signal Mountain Middle/High School visual arts teacher Allison Fuller-Mulloy is changing her focus this academic year as the lead teacher of Hamilton County's new high school concentrating on science, technology, engineering and math.
Instead of teaching her students about color and perspective, the Signal Mountain resident now spends her time helping teachers integrate technology into their classrooms, posting class content and assignments online and teaching students how to use the technological resources.
"I want to make sure I'm giving enough support so the technology is a tool that's helping them and making things easier to access," said Fuller-Mulloy. "Adults have the idea [kids] are always doing time-wasting things on their devices. I want them to know how to use it to be productive - to help receive and access information you need - not just to play games and send social messages."
Each student at the start of the school year received a tablet computer on which they are able to access all class documents and assignments. The students use Edmodo, a secure social networking site designed for students and teachers, to interact with one another about classroom topics.
"The setup looks a lot like Facebook," Fuller-Mulloy said. "We encourage it as a place to discuss and not just access assignments."
She receives notification whenever a student posts a comment on the site. When she looked at the classroom pages after the first day of school, she said she was excited to see students already using the platform to solve their own problems, such as clarifying assignments or explaining to others how to operate a link.
"I like the idea of them connecting not only to the curriculum but to each other," said Fuller-Mulloy. "The idea of linking this community of learners is really exciting to me."
She said she has always been interested in technology, incorporating it whenever possible while teaching visual arts, which she did at Red Bank High School for four years prior to coming to SMHS.
"The kids responded really well," she said of her attempts to integrate technology into her art classes.
Fuller-Mulloy pursued a master's in curriculum and technology at Nova Southeastern University before attaining her new position at the STEM school, which she said she found appealing due to its innovative approach to education.
"It's a new style of education based on student needs," said Fuller-Mulloy of the approach taken by the STEM school, a platform school where new teaching methods will be researched in order to disseminate the information throughout the region. "What I figure out with these 75 students will eventually impact the whole county."
While she said she loved teaching visual arts, her new job has allowed her to learn more about how a school functions from the administrative side, aiding her in meeting her ultimate goal of reaching as many students as possible.
"The whole reason I got into teaching is being with students, helping and interacting," said Fuller-Mulloy. "It's exciting to see these kids from all different parts of the city, to see how well they're doing and how much they're enjoying it."